These days, if you’re in the market for a new vehicle you’re probably considering some sort of an SUV, crossover, or pickup truck. If, however, you’re one of that dwindling bunch of buyers who are still interested in just a regular car, rarely have you had a better selection and as many great deals to choose from. It’s especially the case if you’re looking for a midsize sedan, since that was the real battleground for the big-name manufacturers until SUVs and crossovers took over the market.
Among the plethora of great midsize sedans around today is the 2019 Chevrolet Malibu, which is a nameplate that actually dates back as far as 1964. The current production run kicked off in 1997, and the 2019 model is a newly refreshed version of what is now the model’s ninth-generation. Is the Malibu just another car that’s edging beyond its sell-by date, or is it a slightly forgotten gem? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
According to current trends, some people don’t think a vehicle looks right unless it’s unnecessarily tall. On the other hand, if you’re someone who still likes the more traditional (ie, lower) car styling, the 2019 Chevrolet Malibu really is a very good-looking example of the genre. The midsize Chevy has had a light mid-cycle refresh for the 2019 model year, and it’s now even better-looking than it already was. And that’s saying something.
Unlike a lot of its rivals, the Malibu looks good from every angle. The front fascia is modern, sporty, and distinctive, and it gives the Malibu a strong resemblance to the larger Impala, and that’s not a bad thing by any means. The side view presents a sport silhouette, and there are a couple of creases that start at the top and bottom of the front door, running towards meeting at the back of the rear doors. It’s not revolutionary, but it does give the side profile of the Malibu a lot more style in this area than most of its rivals.
There’s a bit of the Honda Accord and a bit of the Audi A7 about the exterior styling of the 2019 Malibu, but the RS trim that’s been added this year adds extra sporty and upscale elements, with 18-inch alloy wheels and blacked-out trim that take the Malibu to another level.
Inside the Malibu, you are reminded that this is quite clearly not a luxury model. Then again, it’s not claiming to be. The front seats are comfortable and there’s plenty of room for those sitting in the back. A six-way manual driver’s seat is standard, but most models on car lots will have the eight-way power adjustable version instead.
Unfortunately, the sloping roof line that contributes so much to the fabulous looks of the Malibu’s exterior does have slightly adverse effects in other areas. There isn’t as much rear headroom as you might like, and the trunk only has a 15.8 cu.-ft. capacity. That’s a little below par for this class.
Models with the cloth upholstery feature a mesh-like fabric on the dashboard that tends to get mixed reviews, but LT and Premier models with leather upholstery replace it with much more likable vinyl trim to match the seats.
Engines and Performance
It would be easy to get carried away with the sporty styling of the Malibu’s exterior and assume the performance will live up to the promises made by the exterior. While the way the Malibu performs won’t exactly rain on that particular parade, the performance isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of the look either.
The majority of Malibu models you’ll find on dealer lots will have a 1.5-liter turbo four cylinder engine under the hood that’s rated at 163 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. This modest amount of power is then sent to the front wheels through a new continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
There are alternatives in the Malibu lineup though, and one you really ought to consider is the Malibu Hybrid. The system under the skin employs a 1.8-liter inline-four cylinder engine, coupled with a 1.5-kWh lithium-ion battery and an electric motor, which produces a combined output of 182 horsepower. Although there’s no specific EV mode that allows the Malibu Hybrid to run on electric power only, the system is capable of operating purely on electric at speeds of up to 55 mph. As well as better fuel economy ratings, the Malibu Hybrid is also a little quicker than those equipped with the standard 1.5L engine.
If there’s real fun to be had behind the wheel of the Malibu, you’re going to find it with the available 2.0-liter turbo-four that develops 250 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s not too much for the front-drive format, and it also means a real nine-speed automatic transmission instead of that CVT. Unfortunately, to get this engine you’ll have to spring for the most expensive Premier trim level, as it’s exclusive to that top model.
Features and Equipment
The 2019 Chevy Malibu comes in L, LS, RS, LT Hybrid, and Premier trim levels, and the good news is every model comes with a superb infotainment system, and that matters a lot to buyers these days. The entry-level Malibu L comes standard with the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system, with its 8.0-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The L also comes standard with Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, climate control, and Chevrolet Connected Access 12 with 10 years of standard connectivity.
- Great looking
- Impressive turbocharged performance
- Economical hybrid option
- Lots of technology onboard
- Active safety features cost more
- A little dull to drive (unless you spring for the 2.0L engine)
- Functional interior
- Lacks a little personality
The Last Word
With an MSRP starting at $22,090, the entry-level 2019 Malibu L is a very appealing package that’s well worth a look. The LT is probably the best balance of price, equipment, and style, although the new RS is the one to buy if your car appearance is the number one priority. Admittedly, there’s a lot of competition for your business in this segment of the market, but that means there are also some good deals to be had. The Malibu is a new car you can be proud to have outside your home, and one that won’t break the bank either.